Inasmuch as Salafis are vile and violent, so too must they be credited with being refreshingly frank and honest, especially in comparison with the "moderate"—that is, mendacious—Muslim Brotherhood.
To understand this, one must first understand that Salafis are simply modern day Muslims who closely pattern themselves after the very earliest Muslims, specifically those generations that coincided with Islam's so-called "Golden Age," beginning with Muhammad's rule, followed by the first four "righteous caliphs," circa. 622-656.1
Along with the Quran, Salafis slavishly follow the hadith accounts—the many words and deeds attributed to Muhammad as well as his closest companions. In other words, they espouse the mentality of 7th century Arab jihadis and usurpers.
Whereas a few decades ago, knowledge of the word salafi was limited to Muslim scholars and theologians—the so-called ulema, literally, "they who know"—today, millions of Muslims identify with Salafism. Similarly, although the word was popularized in Egypt, where the Salafi party won the most votes second to the Muslim Brotherhood, many Muslims, past and present, have conformed to its identity, though under different epithets; for example, Saudi Arabia's "Wahabbis" and al-Qaeda are Salafis.
The one saving grace of Salafis, that serves non-Muslims who wish to learn the truth concerning Islamic law and teachings, is that they are immensely proud of their Islamic heritage—as one would have to be to meticulously uphold the practices of 7th century desert people. Like the earliest Muslim conquerors drunk with power and pride, convinced that Allah was on their side and they can do no wrong, today's Salafis are unabashed when it comes to the things of Islam—from evoking them to upholding them.
Unsurprisingly, then, it is Salafi-minded Muslims who routinely evoke and uphold any number of things deemed absurd or evil in a Western context—from trying to enforce a canonical hadith that compels women to breastfeed adult men (ironically, to protect their "chastity") to drinking camel urine for good health, to calling for the destruction of all churches. In all cases, Muhammad said so.
While examples are legion, consider this poetic ode to the importance of truth in Islam—in the context of disavowing Christians and Sufis (AKA moderate Muslims)—as captured in a recent video of an Egyptian sheikh:
For this umma [Muslim world], here is true love: to spell out the word of truth—otherwise, what good will it do to consent to fallacy, which leads to everyone's downfall, if not today then tomorrow? Hence the necessity to speak the truth. It is absolutely unacceptable—this falsification and fraud, and this hypocrisy, that some practice under the garment of love—those [Muslims] who take Christians or Sufis in their embrace. And none of them speaks a word of truth, to show the meaning of Loyalty and Enmity [the Quran's notoriously divisive doctrine of wala wa bara]. Such [Muslims] live and die as they are—under the illusion that they are on the right side. Because you have shown them [Muslims who err by befriending non-Muslims] nothing but love, friendliness and fraternity, shown them nothing but silence and concealment. Therefore, you can be responsible for them on the Day of Judgment. Better for you and them to speak the truth, saying [all quotes from Quran]: "They surely blaspheme who say that Allah is the third of three"; "They surely blaspheme who say that Allah is the Messiah, [Jesus] son of Mary"; "The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the Son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; they but imitate what the infidels of old used to say—Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded from the Truth!"; "They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah and Messiah, son of Mary, while they were commanded to worship none but one god"…. Learn how to speak the word of truth and how to pronounce it publicly, in the face of the old and the young, the man and the woman, the ruler and the subject: "As for those who strive in Our cause, We shall surely guide them to Our Ways."
Thus the Salafis openly say what other Islamists—notably the Muslim Brotherhood—refuse to say, but do with their actions. For example, while the Salafis have always been adamant about their demand to empower the totality of Sharia in Egypt's Constitution, the Muslim Brotherhood has not—even as MB leader and Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi is now doing everything in his power to impose Sharia on Egypt.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
1 Afterwards, there was Islam's first schism, or First Fitna—the first, that is, of countless to plague the Islamic world, past and present—which, among other things, saw the Sunni-Shia split and led to the establishment of, according to the Islamic narrative, the unrighteous and largely un-Islamic Umayyad empire, whose only notable Islamic activity was to continue the jihad on Christendom—specifically against Constantinople, but also into western north Africa and into Europe through Spain—in order to plunder and subjugate.